*WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are warned that the following article contains links to images of deceased persons.
As we continue to honour and celebrate National Reconciliation Week, Commonwealth Games Australia (CGA) continues its commitment to being an active participant in Australia’s reconciliation journey, with this update from the CGA Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) working group.
Building on from the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, where the event had a first-ever Reconciliation Action Plan for a multi-sport Games, the Commonwealth Games Australia Reconciliation Action Plan working group has made tremendous strides in developing the important program for the organisation.
For Kyle Vander-Kuyp, a proud Worimi and Yuin man and four-time Commonwealth Games representative, being part of the RAP working group has been a rewarding experience already for the Victoria 1994 silver medallist.
“It has been such an honour and privilege to be part of this RAP group working alongside former teammates and sporting colleagues that I know have passion and commitment as their values makes this a very exciting journey,” Vander-Kuyp said.
“The journey to reconciliation can start in so many ways and beginning the formal process of a RAP can create and build so much awareness and give an organisation the confidence to enter in meaningful conversations and relationships with First Nations people and walk side by side together to make our country more inclusive and at the same time gain respect for the world’s longest continuing culture and be proud that it belongs to all Australians.”
Vander-Kuyp, is joined on the working group by fellow CGA Alumni including Indigenous members Taliqua Clancy (Beach Volleyball – 2018) and Katie Mitchell Sigsworth (Rhythmic Gymnastics – 1994) along with fellow CGA alumni Matthew Haanappel OAM (Swimming – 2018) and Cassie Woods (nee McCall) (Archery – 2010).
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Cassie Woods holds a distinct place in Australia’s Commonwealth Games history as the nation’s sole female archery medallist, after winning bronze in the compound bow (individual) event at the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games, and now she holds another important place in CGA history being involved with the RAP process.
“Being a part of the working group has been one of the most enjoyable professional collaborations I have been involved in,” Woods said.
“The diversity of opinion, the learnings I have already taken from the discussions to date, the value of those involved have made this a wonderful process to be involved with.
“The process has been incredibly inclusive, constructive and positive.
“Through the working group meetings we have held to date and the ability to take actions offline, all members have had a voice in shaping the RAP, and the opportunity to consult more widely with their networks. The result will hopefully be something that CGA and the broader sporting network can be really proud of.”
The alumni team members will be joined by former Gold Coast Commonwealth Games Manager Executive Operations Travis Couch and Gunaikurnai Traditional Owner Brian Stevens.
The group will be chaired by four-time Commonwealth Games representative, three-time Australian team Chef de Mission, Melbourne 2006 Athletes Village Mayor and CGA Board member Steve Moneghetti AM, with the support of fellow Board member Jayne Ferguson.
The project has been guided by experienced RAP consultant Karen Milward and Karen Milward Consulting in conjunction with Commonwealth Games Australia’s Community Engagement Manager and Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Natalie Medhurst (Netball – 2010, 2014) and CGA’s General Manager of Marketing, Communications and Community David Culbert, a teammate of both Vander-Kuyp and Moneghetti during his own athletics career.
Yabru First Nations Welcome Ceremony at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. (Commonwealth Sport)
Commonwealth Games Australia CEO Craig Phillips said the development of a Reconciliation Action Plan is an important component of the CGA’s strategic priority of ‘Connecting with Communities’.
“Commonwealth Games Australia was an active participant in the development of the Gold Coast 2018 RAP and we carried the ‘Unity’ design element of that program on our team uniforms on the Gold Coast,” Phillips said.
“CGA’s is committed to recognising our Indigenous athletes, increasing our awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander language, culture and histories, and connecting with our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Our aim is to embed the recognition and inclusion of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history in our organisation and our plans, not just for our team in Birmingham but in our daily actions.”
“We have a strong and proud history of athletes from both Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent, back to Percy Hobson (athletics) and Jeffrey ‘Mitta’ Dynevor (boxing) who won gold medals in Perth in 1962 and this continued on the Gold Coast.”
CGA has received support funding for the development of a Reconciliation Action Plan from the Commonwealth Sport Foundation – via its Game Changers Grants.
“I am very excited to see completion and launch of the CGA RAP,” Woods said.
“The involvement of the board to this point and the backing that has been visible gives me confidence that this action plan will be implemented and deliver quality outcomes during the reflect stage that can be built upon in future RAPs.
“I think the Commonwealth Games community should be equally excited and enthused to deliver on the ambitions put forward in this RAP.”
Vander-Kuyp believes the CGA RAP will make a significant impact on
“I cannot wait to see what we can build on with this RAP,” Vander-Kuyp said.
“To be a spectator with my family up at the Gold Coast Games in 2018, it made me proud to see First Nation culture and people represented and acknowledge in such a beautiful and respectful way.
“For my young kids to see Culture celebrated this way is where we will all get to one day as a country when Aboriginal and Torres Strait people and cultures are embraced and accepted and everyone has pride.
“This RAP now picks up and continues the journey, so that when a young athlete puts on the Green and Gold in the future and knows the rich beautiful history of the country they are representing and walks proudly with an awareness they come from a country that has existed for over 80 thousand years… this will be a thing to witness.”